Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Futile and Hopeless Labor

Detail of Sisyphus (1920) by Franz von Stuck

I figured that we would start our countdown to the upcoming TAM exhibit, "Between the Knowing", by considering one of the classic works of Existentialism, Albert Camus' Myth of Sisyphus, which opens with the memorable lines:

"The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor."

As a metaphor of life, this myth has a powerful resonance. With such hardship and pointlessness, how can one persevere? How can one continue to live without the glimmer of hope? But Camus reverses expectations; since one does live without hope and without meaning, then one is free to accept the struggle of Life as it is, as an absurd but unavoidable certainty.

And so, Camus concludes:

"I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

With that in mind, let's take a look at a video by Sara Ramo, one of the featured artists of the upcoming show:

Oceano Possivel (2002)

"Between the Knowing" opens on Saturday, April 14th. We're looking forward to seeing you at the TAM!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Between the Knowing: Opening April 14

Logo for the Torrance Art Museum's exhibition "Between the Knowing"

"Nothingness haunts Being."
--- Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (1943)

We're starting the countdown for the TAM's next exhibit, "Between the Knowing", inspired by various existentialist concerns regarding "The Void", be it as a spatial emptiness, a cognitive blindness, or an apophatic inspiration.

The opening reception will be on Saturday, April 14th, from 6 to 9 pm. The exhibition will be on view until June 2nd.

There will be eleven artists featured in this show, each with a different approach to the Emptiness. These artists are:

Brian Bosworth          Rick Cluchey          Zoe Crosher         Steve DeGroodt
Julian Faulhaber         Beth Lipman          Chuck Moffit         Daniel Nevers
Sara Ramo                Al Taylor                Richard Tuttle

We're looking forward to seeing you all at the TAM!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Adam Bateman: As the Rose

As the Rose (2010) by Adam Bateman, at the Torrance Art Museum patio

The TAM has a new sculpture to grace the Museum Patio, Adam Bateman's As the Rose, an engaging work composed out of irrigation implements.

A strong theme to Bateman's work is the contrast of the Modernist aesthetic with the Pastoral. Through the utilization of landscaping or agricultural materials in creating abstract forms, the work expresses anew the traditional concept of transcendence through the observation of nature, but, perhaps, subverts it through the formal arrangement of material.

Certainly, to observe this sculpture "as the rose" is to be seduced by the organic, spiralling structure. However, have the abstraction and material selection severed the connection between Nature and Art, deciding upon pure Form and Design over representation or traditionalism?

I don't know, but you can come by to see this thought-provoking work to decide for yourself when the museum reopens on April 14.

As the Rose by Adam Bateman, reflected on TAM's closed doors.

Until then, you'll only be able to view it from a distance, from between the bars of the patio gate. ;-)

Close up of As the Rose (2010) by Adam Bateman

Looking forward to seeing you at the TAM!!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Yvette Gellis: Ascension

Ascension (2011) by Yvette Gellis
Oil, acrylic, canvas, graphite
108 x 156 inches
Courtesy of Garboushian Gallery

With architectural hints receding into a radiant abstract space beyond the picture plane, Yvette Gellis' Ascension immediately grabbed my attention as I entered the gallery. Given the size of this painting, 9 by 13 feet, it felt as though one could fall into these swirling dimensions bounded by yellow voids and deconstructed structural imagery. A moment of awe, a mixture of confusion and delight, compelled me to give this painting a long and detailed scrutiny.

I am an enthusiast of urban landscapes, structural renderings, and architectural caprices of all sorts. Gellis' Ascension struck me as being somewhat of this category, a scherzo di fantasia for the post-modern world where the fragments of buildings dissolve into and emerge from an abstract chaos, a sublime potentiality.

Intrigued, I looked at Gellis' statement for the work, which reads:

“My childhood home disappeared into a tract housing development leaving me with a profound sense of loss. Within my memory are landscapes that contain objects, forms, and spaces that I play with, deconstructing, resurrecting, and changing to reflect the fleeting nature of the everyday world, emblematic of American economic cycles of growth, decline, and rebirth.”

Whereas Old Master caprices dealt with cultural memories of a mythic antique past, Gellis makes it personal. Though vanished like a bubble in the stream of time, childhood persists within the memory and emerges transfigured and sanctified through the creative expression, realized anew in the painter's process. Out from an increasingly homogenized world, the painter can discover and express the profound, whether it is to be found in memory or among the overlooked beauty that surrounds us.

Later, I had to opportunity to talk with Yvette Gellis about her work.

“It's all here for us to see.” She said. “Inspiration is all around us like thoughts in space. These structures, objects, contain history and memories. The painting is a stage in which to articulate, a process to manifest the painter's experiential realization of a spiritual impulse.”

This process is captured in Gellis' work by the tension between the figural and the abstract, even down to the layering and application of the paint. Tightly rendered forms emerge from beneath vigorously applied thick layers of paint. Balanced and considered composition contends with impulsive strokes that express the emotions and inspiration of the moment. It is a struggle between dark and light, between destruction and creation, that Gellis finds as a vital inspiration within her work.

“I want to integrate the figurative back into art, but there's a constant struggle with the restraints of representation and the ambiguity of abstraction.” She said. “They're fighting with each other all the time. In this duality of life, you have to find your own center. And, through this process of painting, you try to find the answer.”

Detail of Ascension (2011) by Yvette Gellis

When viewing Ascension, one can see this conflict and balance being worked out. But what of the large size and bold color?

“I'd like to triple the size. I want to capture the thoughts as they are in a space, visceral memories contained on the canvas, primal and true. Can I reduce these vast impressions down to a page?” She said. “And the color has a psychological quality, bold and invasive but uplifting to the spirit. In the face of hardship or loss, the brightness speaks of hope, that everything is going to be fine.”

Gellis' process in composing her images starts by observing the world around her, taking photographs of buildings, walls, and other architectural constructs. Especially conducive to inspiration are those areas where space and light transition from exterior to interior, like an open door or a collapsed wall. Such areas pose an aesthetic dialectic for the viewer; the liminal quality of place creates an epistemic uncertainty from which one can create a new significance, an exalted new reality guided by memory and imagination towards some self-realized Pure Truth.

“It's a Romantic relationship that I have with painting, although I'm rather reluctant to admit it.” She said. “I want to know where the painting is going. I want to be there pushing the process. There are so many questions to ask, and a lot of angst. But there's something profound, important. That's what I hope to share and experience with the viewers.”

Here are a couple videos:

A survey of Yvette Gellis' art and technique

Ascension (2011) by Yvette Gellis on exhibit at the Torrance Art Museum



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Levitated Mass: Coming Near Torrance

Detail from a preliminary sketch for Levitated Mass (2011) by Michael Heizer

A 340-ton granite megalith is coming our way!

On Thursday morning, the Levitated Mass will be resting in the nearby city of Carson, at Vermont Avenue just north of Carson Street. Then, on Thursday night, it'll skirt our fine community by journeying along a zig-zag path: north on Vermont, west on 190th, north on Normandie, west on Artesia, and north on Western, leaving the South Bay behind it.

For more info, check out LACMA's Gawker Guide for Levitated Mass.

This isn't an everyday occurrence. So, come on out to see it at rest or, if you're a nocturnal person, try to catch it moving by night.

Here's a video:


(BTW, don't forget that this weekend is the closing of our current show at the TAM. Check it out before they're gone!!!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

To Live and Paint in LA: Closing March 10

"To Live and Paint in LA" at the Torrance Art Museum. Gallery view featuring works by Jonathan Apgar, Carlson Hatton, and Jon Flack.

Here's a friendly reminder that "To Live and Paint in LA" will be closing within two weeks, on Saturday, March 10. If you haven't seen this show, don't miss out on viewing the many fine works currently on display. And if you've already paid a visit, come on by and say farewell to your favorite pieces.

The Tiny Demon commands it! ;-)

Gallery view featuring works by John Seal, Noah Davis, and Alika Cooper.

Gallery view featuring works by Rebecca Campbell, Allison Miller, and Asad Faulwell.

And here's a vid:

A walkthrough of "To Live and Paint in LA" at the Torrance Art Museum

We're looking forward to seeing you at the TAM!